Nope, I’m not smoking crack.
Nor am I one of those guys playing devil’s advocate, or trying to take a different approach because “I wanted to be the guy to think of this idea first.” (sips 6 dollar coffee, sits down with sweater vest and rolled up jeans).
Right now if you are a Toronto Argonauts fan, you’re probably punching anything you can find including stuffed animals, tomato plants and miniature boats.
But lets be honest, that’s what sports fans always do when their team’s GM makes a big, bold move like Jim Barker has.
Okay, so he didn’t gain a lot of popularity by acquiring Drew Willy from Winnipeg. Willy has his naysayers, and even a few supporters but he’s absolutely loaded with potential. Scott Milanovich is finally starting to get some accolades as the QB whisperer, a title Wally Buono has happily held for many years.
But this post isn’t about Drew Willy.
Obviously, the Argos made a big move on Monday releasing the “big 3” as they’ve been dubbed (Hazelton, Elliott, Gurley). And the less talked about Phil Bates, who should draw equally as much surprise.
Yes, this move clearly raises some eyebrows across the Canadian football world and rightfully so. But lets take a good hard look at it for one second.
If you do recall my previous blog entry about being a “fantasy GM,” what was one big blaring dilemma that was exposed?
The Argos have absolutely zero Canadian “talent” in their regular rotation of receivers. If you look at the other 8 CFL teams, every squad has at least one. Whether or not they use him correctly is one thing, but the main issue is the double blue had no one there. Not that big of a deal, we suppose if you are slinging that many Canadians in other positions.
You’d figure something had to give, right? All the Argos have done this year is make bold, bold moves which have really left them empty handed.
Who can forget the Keon Raymond release, that was ever so publicized. It was said that Toronto “wasn’t getting enough production from that SAM position.” And since that release, Toronto is a sub par 1-5.
So what do I think about the big release today? Brilliant move.
And it was likely done because Anthony Coombs is finally, finally ready to be a BIG part of this offense. It seems like the Argos waited an eternity for him to develop, and he just kept being the forgotten man. In recent weeks, his touches have gone through the roof and I’d be willing to bet trying to fit him in as a “Kendial Lawrence” type role is why. Have him rotate reps at RB, strong side slot, on sweeps etc. When Lawrence was successful in Edmonton, that’s how they used him and they used him A LOT.
The other factors? Hazelton will be the easy one “because of his attitude.” He fell into the dog house week after week, and that was inevitable. Kevin Elliott, however, we mentioned on podcast Episode 20 (last week) that he was a “sell high” option. If there’s a player in the CFL that’s just a beneficiary of a supporting cast and offense that targets him, its Kevin Elliott. Almost like Chris Getzlaf was in Saskatchewan, his virtual twin in a lot of areas. As for Tori Gurley, Ricky Ray throws a dreamy ball onto a pillow and Gurley saw almost all of his yards on long TD throws. Now that Ray isn’t around, Willy’s throws to his feet aren’t helping his yardage.
Fact: Drew Willy’s accuracy needs a good 6-9 months of off season coaching before he’s ready to start again. He’s clearly damaged by what happened in Winnipeg, no doubt. Poor Drew’s got a case of the happy feet, and he’s had it since week 1. No confidence in his throws, no confidence in protection, and no confidence in his reads.
Fact: Ricky Ray’s body will likely be pushing him towards retirement soon, so the Argos need to go a totally different direction and do it now. Cody Fajardo is their future, and right now they have a very capable Dan Lefevour.
Fact: Trade deadline is October 12 (over a week away) and you’d have to think Jim Barker isn’t done. The Toronto CFL franchise doesn’t float through the system without “big name players,” Barker has a big splash on his hands. Maybe Duron Carter? (Highly unlikely, but would make sense if he’s able to shake off the whole “not a team player” label)
Fact: The Argos need more Canadian talent at WR, and there are quite a few options out there. Eskimos WR Nate Coehoorn, BC Lions WR Shawn Gore are two that come to mind.
Fact: This new look offense will continue to feature Diontae Spencer, Kenny Shaw, Devon Wylie and likely some smatterings of Llevi Noel. Don’t be surprised if you see DeVier Posey (Dan the Stats Guy tells me) he should factor in. Smaller, speedy receivers rather than “big play, one trick pony” receivers.
So on paper, it looks like an awfully stupid move and will draw a whole lot of skepticism.
But in the big picture, it was a move that needed to be made and it tells me their offense is going in an entirely different direction. That being, a good one; featuring Dan Lefevour’s legs and a whole lot of motion.
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